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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Virginia's Secretary Of Public Safety Could Derail One Of The Governor's Key Parole Commission Recommendations

Lady Justice
Here's a recent AP article based on the long awaited report of the Governor's Parole Review Commission:

RICHMOND, Va (AP)

Virginia abolished parole in 1995, but judges weren't required to tell jurors about that change until 2000.

Now, Gov. Terry McAuliffe's administration and advocates hope to give a second chance to inmates they say may have been unfairly punished.

Advocates and attorneys say that uninformed jurors gave some offenders inflated sentences between 1995 and 2000, thinking they'd serve just part of their term before being paroled.

Advocates now want law makers to consider allowing those inmates to be re-sentenced.

Brian Moran, secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, says the administration is committed to addressing the issue, but he questions how the state would re-sentence all those inmates.

He said the administration is crafting legislation that would instead make them eligible for parole.
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Charles Zellers, Sr., a current parole eligible inmate, responds as follows:

"Brian Moran stating that the inmates should just be eligible for parole would not be accomplishing what advocates and the Governor had in mind because the parole board would illegally keep not granting the inmates parole (currently at a less than 3% release rate) until they have served 85 percent of their time anyway, just as they are doing with the parole eligible inmates in prisons now (all who were incarcerated before 1995).

"...This is just like the Virginia law Section 17.1-805, that retroactively enhances inmates sentences by 100, 300, and 500 percent. How can lawmakers increase an inmates sentence that was not agreed to in the plea bargin, by a jury or judge? How illegal is this? This is just like you getting a speeding ticket and go to court and the judge gives you 30 days in jail and while you are in jail lawmakers come up with a law that states if it was you first offense you serve 100%, second offense you serve 300% and third or more offense you serve 500%. If it was you third traffic offense, now your time to serve is 150 days. This is absurd and illegal. Please bring this to light. Refer to Code of Virginia 17.1-805.

"Also, Virginia has sex offenders laws that enhance an inmates sentence because of the crimes they were convicted for. How can these individuals add to sentences ordered by their plea bargain, jury of peers or judge?"

Here's the link to express your concern to the Governor's Office: 
https://governor.virginia.gov/constituent-services/communicating-with-the-governors-office
(Under "Message Information" select "Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security" and for the item "Response Required" mark "Yes")

Your message could be as follows (put this in your own words):

Brian Moran stating that inmates who were sentenced prior to 2000 (when judges were not required to instruct juries that parole had been abolished) should not have a re-sentencing hearing but simply be made eligible for parole would not be accomplishing what advocates and the Governor's Commission recommends. The parole board could illegally continue not granting the inmates parole (currently at a less than 3% release rate) until they have served 85 percent of their time anyway, just as they are doing now with parole eligible inmates (all who were incarcerated before 1995).


This is similar to the Virginia law Section 17.1-805, that retroactively enhances inmates sentences by 100, 300, and 500 percent. This cannot be either legal or just.

And here is a link to some other posts on parole reform.
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